Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Book Review- The Balance Project by Susie Orman Schnall

So I am back with another book review. I’m reviewing this book for NetGalley, a website that offers books to be reviewed that have yet to be published. I am a little behind on this review, and ­The Balance Project by Susie Orman Schnall came out on April 28. Because this book review is for more of a formal setting, I have decided to change up my style. I mean, I actually took notes on this one. There are highlights on those notes to make this post the best post ever. Let me know what you think.

The Balance Project takes on the topic of women having it all in the work force (hence: balance). I actually wrote a blog post on a similar topics last year. The novel certainly does take on some really good points about dreams and what it means to have it all. It also outlines family and how that is incorporated into a busy working life. There were points that I found could be insulting to women in the workforce, but most of those issues were resolved in the end. The novel is from the point of view of Lucy Cooper, but her boss Katherine Whitney is placed as her foil (there’s my English degree peeking out there). It was an interesting way to place the story, and it drew me in.
I ended up really like the narration in the story. It does not fall under the category of my favourite books, but you end up really hearing the voice of the characters. I think the best way to describe it is relatable. All the conversations mimic the way people actually talk, so it was an easy read, and it built the characters up effectively. The novel does end up being predictable by the end, so that was disappointing, but the inciting action made it like a mystery that forced me to carry on.
 
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The overall tone of the novel seemed a lot like The Devil Wears Prada. Granted, I have never read the book, but I have seen the movie and that was all I could think about for the first 2/3 of the book. A couple of my pet peeves are a change of fonts when a handwritten note comes into play, and, as of recent, texting conversations within a novel. This book had both, and that irked me. The cliché small town family and the predictability made me roll my eyes. The novel had a lot of interviews that Katherine (the boss) was participating in, and the author always added Lucy’s comments of analysis in between the interview. That made me feel like I could not think for myself. I also found the inciting action took too long to happen, and that the author tried too hard to make chapters end on a cliff hanger.
Due to the nature of the narration, I was able to feel a connection to the main character Lucy Cooper right away, and I feel strongly about her actions. To be honest, she bothers me. Does this woman not have a backbone? The whole novel she knows exactly what she wants but doesn’t know how to get it. She needs validation to make any decision on every level of her life, and that bothers me so much! When she actual makes a decision for herself, I am so proud of her, but she often goes back on what she says and seems wishy-washy. There is, however, something to be said about her being human. Going back to my point about being relatable, yes, Lucy is relatable because it can be difficult to fully believe in decisions that change your entire life. I just like my heroines to have a stronger backbone. I would like Lucy a lot more if she actually owned up to her decisions.
Overall, the story was intriguing, but the writing itself was not the best. There are feminist issues at hand, and I am not well versed enough to comment directly on those. However, the question at hand was the ability to maintain a balanced lifestyle, and it made me question what that really means. For a rating, I give the writing a 2, and the story itself a 4 because I could not stop reading. So that averages out to  a 3/5. Not a bad book by any means. It’s an easy read, and the characters are set up wonderfully.
Let me know if you read it yourself!
-Daniella